Mike and I moved into a new apartment in October, when Hazel was only 3 months old. And she met all our neighbors before I did, because our nanny would take her down to the lobby to see the kids when they were coming home from school. I guess my smiley baby made quite an impression, because when I would run into random neighbors on the weekends, they would inevitably say, “Oh, you’re Hazel’s mother!” then ignore me and talk to my tiny daughter like she was an old drinking buddy.
After the first time it happened, I said to Mike, “It’s so weird that you can just make a person and then people you don’t even know can like that person.”
Granted, everybody loves a baby—any baby. But shouldn’t the parent accompanying the infant be acknowledged, too? On Saturday as I was sitting with my daughter in the lobby, three adults walked by and said, “Hi Hazel!” They didn’t even introduce themselves to me, they just breezed out the door. I waved.
When people talk directly to my (now) 6 month old, I never know how I should react. Especially when they ask her questions. Should I just smile and nod? Answer the question myself? Or answer for Hazel? And if the latter, should I do it in creepy baby talk or in my own voice?
Yesterday, for instance, I was walking Hazel around the lobby in a stroller so we wouldn’t wake up Mike, who was still asleep in the apartment. A woman walked past and said, “Hi Hazel! Are you sad that it’s too cold to go outside?”
After a pause, I finally answered, “Yes, it’s a shame!”
Still looking only at my baby, the woman said, “Did you take a nap yet? Are you ready for a nap?”
That’s when I started saying in a high-pitched voice, “No, I just woke up!” before I came to my senses and said, like a normal person, “Right, sweetie? You just woke up.” Then I turned and started wheeling her away fast.
“Bye, Hazel!” the neighbor yelled after us. I have no idea what her name is or in which apartment she lives.
I love new motherhood, but I don’t know if I’m comfortable being identified primarily as “Hazel’s mom.” Then again, if Hazel’s happy-baby friendliness tricks people into thinking that Mike and I are good neighbors—with absolutely no effort on our part—I guess I should just suck it up, right? Because who knows when we might need to borrow a cup of sugar.
More posts from Esther:
The Incredible Baby Trick Only My Nanny Knows